by Jacqueline Yeo
We all have recollections of our younger selves fighting for more personal freedom, be it against authoritative figures like parents and teachers, or against the laws established by institutions. Unfortunately, such is a microcosm of the collective human thought. We have an intrinsic psychological motivation towards liberation and it is innate within us to possess passions for liberation of various minorities. Even then, this so-called ‘freedom’ may not mean the same thing to everyone.
Anti-slavery, gender equality, equal marriage rights. To the observers of history, this struggle for liberation runs deep throughout history. Hegel (1770 – 1831), the philosopher of history, believed that the driving force of this unfolding human history is the consciousness of universal, rational freedom. This means to say that it is this concept of freedom which cannot be repressed by illogical reasoning, giving rise to human struggle.
The idea of slavery and gender bias were, after all, ideologies set in place by ruling societies of the time. Over the course of history, however, these ideals get challenged and the rules changed.
In June this year, the United States became the 21st country to have legalised same-sex marriages, and already there is a movement in progress to stop that from happening in some states. Even if the society as a whole has not reached (or may never reach) a consensus over this issue, analysing the course of human history, it appears that this sort of protest is a natural progression. Pro-marriage camps will see it as a win for personal freedom, while their detractors will see it as a slap in the face for humankind (or rather, certain overly conservative and/or religious groups).
As we have seen over the course of history, change happens. In the arena of gender equality, we now have female leaders in countries like South Korea and Taiwan, two traditionally patriarchal societies.
Bearing in mind the high unlikeliness of these 21 countries retracting their laws on same-sex marriage, opposing camps will inevitably continue to oppose. While some victories for personal freedom are easier won, others will be a continual battle. As President Obama once said, “We are the change that we seek.”